What about the patients?!
Last week I injected myself with my last dose of my pharma meds, an anti TNF or immune suppressor for my psoriatic arthritis. Actually it was half a dose because I had to split the last one as I didn’t know when I would be receiving more. I’m currently receiving doses for 6 months at a time from Novartis for compassionate use (as I was a clinical trial patient for this drug).
The good thing about being forced to reduce my dosage is that it gets me closer to my goal of ditching my pharma meds, as long as I’m able to manage my condition. Cannabis can compliment this situation perfectly. That was my main motivation for starting a medical cannabis company, finding myself a solution and potentially helping many others. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to do this even though cannabis is fully legal in Uruguay. Crazy right?
Uruguay was the first country in the world to legalize cannabis on a national level in 2013. Seven years later there are only 2 medical cannabis products available in the pharmacies. The extracts are imported from Europe and bottled up here, even though Uruguay has accumulated over 1.2 tons of CBD flower and biomass over the past 3 years. We still don’t have any manufacturers either. Both products are extremely expensive with little amounts of CBD. I would have to buy at least one bottle a week to get the required amount of CBD. That would cost me almost USD1000 per month with no insurance available. Not to mention, I’d have to get a prescription from a doctor who understands cannabis of which there are only a handful here and they charge exorbitant fees for a consultation.
I was left with 2 options to access medical cannabis here:
1) Buy a product which is currently being sold illegally (many recreational growers are making their own oils at home without the proper safety and quality standards)
2) Make my own oil. Luckily I have access to some quality raw material grown by our agronomist, Leandro Martinelli. (he has a recreational home grow license which allows him to grow 6 flowering plants at a time) We make the oil at home with a distillator and alcohol as best as we can without knowing the exact cannabinoid content.
The Uruguayan government made some big announcements a few weeks ago to facilitate exports of medical cannabis which we previously wrote about. Big press releases which created a ton of interest in the industry, but absolutely nothing was mentioned about the patients.
In December last year, Uruguay's senate passed a bill titled, "A Comprehensive Law for the Promotion and Access to Medical and Therapeutic Cannabis," created to improve the access for local patients. Supposedly the government had 6 months to implement this new law but as of today, almost one year later, nothing has changed. Patients including myself are still without access to good quality and safe medicine.
This is the moment for the Uruguayan government to act, especially in this COVID era where a nation’s health is of paramount importance. We need the ministry of health to open their minds, learn from other countries such as Australia, Israel and Germany that have implemented medical cannabis industries and start focussing on the patients needs.